The Stupidity of War By Margarita Chapatte Lopez

in 16th Oslo Films From The South

by Margarita Chapatte Lopez

Included in the Oslo Film Festival’s main competition was an interesting film from Chile called My Best Enemy (Mi mejor enemigo). In December 1978, Argentina and Chile are in a critical moment. One war is just about to be declared for the possession of three little islands in the Beagle Channel. In Patagonia, one Chilean Patrol is sent in order to find the border. However, it was impossible to find the border. A fence was raised in 1904, their compass was broken, and they dug a trench in the middle of nowhere. They are completely lost, and begin a long wait with short provisions.

The problem starts when they discover an Argentinean Patrol a few meters from them. Where is the border? That’s the question, and the situation can be funny. The plot is about twelve men from two countries, six against six waiting for a war. The film gives us a message of peace and is the first work by Alex Bowen. It has won many prizes: Best Film in Brussels and also in Lleida (Spain), two important Latin Americano Film Festivals. This shows a history about war and friendship. The enemies are only in the minds of people that have the power. The movie also has a good sense of humour, but not because the situation is less difficult. In one moment, one of these men said, “Don’t be friends, because afterwards it can be more difficult to kill them.”

At that moment, two dictators Pinochet and Videla, decide the destiny of Chile and Argentina, and try to distract the people from the current political problems with the war. The principal idea is that there aren’t reasons for a war. How can people who are living in that big part of the world where it is so difficult to know exactly where the border is, who are almost family, wait for an order to shoot against the other? For them, the border doesn’t exist.

I want to give a special mention to two technical issues: the cameraman and the actors. The light in Pampa is spectacular and the camera has maximised the changes in the light. He also illustrates the nonsense of war through this cinematography by capturing miles and miles of land without any trace of life. The acting was also very believable and authentic in their interpretation of the characters.

The subject isn’t new and there are two more films that I can remember about the same idea: None But the Brave, directed by Frank Sinatra in 1965. In that movie, the only one directed by Sinatra, two groups of American and Japanese soldiers during the Second World War try to survive together on a Pacific island in the best way possible. The other movie was Merry Christmas (Joyeux Noël) directed by Christian Carion in 2005. This movie was inspired by a real story during the First World War during the night of the 24th of December 1914, when German, French and Scottish soldiers left their rifles to say “Merry Christmas” and have some peaceful moments between war.

While all of these movies are talking about the same ideas, we should still welcome films like My Best Enemy because it shows the stupidity of war.